What, Who and Where: Insights into Personalization

Research Question: Who are the most prolific authors, universities in this field? What are the research themes? Which are the most important journals/conferences? Are there any research gaps in this field? What are the emergent streams of research in this field

The objective of this paper is to gather, analyze and link concepts that revolve around personalization. The techmining objective is to map a profile of personalization research. Personalization is based on the idea that customers have hidden or overt preferences that marketers can reveal by building a learning relationship with the customers. After learning the preferences, marketers can target their current customer base and prospects with more accurate offerings at better suited times and in more convenient places. In other words, they can provide customers with superior value. There has been a growing interest towards personalization possibilities, as indicated by the amount of articles written on the subject.

Over 1200 articles were retrieved with the search word “personalization” and variants of the same stem. Since the terms “customization” and “mass-customization” are often connected with personalization, another search was conductd with search words “customization” and “mass-customization” and variants of the word stems.

Personalization research is on the rise, and it is being studied in several disciplines. The terms used for personalization are still somewhat confusing and make comprehending the phenomenon difficult. However, concepts have evolved during the past years, and a common understanding about personalization is emerging. Personalization is regarded as the main concept, and customization is user-controlled personalization in a web-context. It is unfortunate that mass customization and customization are so similar terms since the similarity adds to the confusion in the field. In order to clarify the terms, we are suggesting that personalization would be the umbrella term for both web personalization and mass customizing and customizing of tangible products. In addition, we emphasize the difference between personalization to an individual (one-to-one personalization) and personalization to a group of consumers (micro personalization). As we reflected the method used in this research, we are confident that research profiling provides us with a comprehensive view of the personalization research. However, the large number of conference proceedings and the lack of keywords and standardized content of abstracts can be considered limitation of the study. We wanted to double-check to the validity of our findings and classified the literature by going through the abstracts, and ended up with the similar picture of personalization that was presented to us with research profiling. In research profiling, one of the keywords that is on the rise in the database searches is “context-aware”, a sign of an increasing interest in the context-dependent communication and advertising. Context-awareness holds many promises but may also be a reason for irritation among consumers. Even though technology allows inferring the consumers’ likely behaviour, the consumers might not be ready for this.

Authors: Anne Sunikka and Johanna Bragge
Organizations: Helsinki School of Economics, Department of Business Technology
Source: Proceedings of the 41st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Year: 2008

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